Charity Commission appeal to Upper Tribunal in Ethiopian Church case

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The Charity Commission has been given permission to appeal to the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber) on what the charity tribunal judge, Alison McKenna, has described as a "novel area for the charity jurisdiction and one in which the guidance of the upper tribunal would be welcome".

In March the Commission opened a statutory inquiry into the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church St Mary of Debre Tsion. The trustees of the Church appealed against the opening of the inquiry on 14 April and on 12 May the Commission closed its inquiry. The Charity Tribunal allowed the Church to continue with its appeal despite the closing of the inquiry and it is against this decision that the Commission seeks to appeal.

The Church advanced seven reasons for why its appeal should continue, including the damage to the Church's reputation by the opening of the appeal and the lack of the review of the lawfulness of the inquiry.

The decision of the Upper Tribunal will make interesting reading in terms of the implications for the exercise of investigatory powers by the Commission.

Read more in Third Sector magazine.